Kenmore straightens up as Sheppard stares at the barrel and extended arm of his best friend and behind Ronon is Teyla, equally with gun ready but thankfully with the control to refrain from shooting first and asking questions later, and almost crouching behind her is Rodney clutching his computer tablet with fingertips poised to type in any help he can get them. And then Sheppard notices it, the hall is a whole ten feet long, just some short stubby little thing, and it ends in a rounded out alcove. On one side of the alcove’s rounded wall is a large long panel full of the same sort of buttons Kenmore and he had just dealt with in their cell room. John stares at it, Well, I’ll be damned, it is like an elevator.
“What the hell is wrong with you people,” Rodney exclaims.
Oh that reminds me…John grabs Kenmore’s arm and yanks her over to him so he could get right in her face as the others lower their weapons or stop cringing over their computer.
“What the hell were you thinking,” he shouts in her face.
“I had the element of surprise.”
“No, you had the element of he almost blew your head off.”
“Barely,” Sheppard glares at her and that little voice comes back. She has a point, almost doesn’t count…“Shut up!” Kenmore stares at him, she hadn’t said anything but luckily she had looked like she planned to. He hadn’t wanted to say that out loud, to reveal that about himself even if no one knew what was going on inside his head. Sheppard’s expression sours at her and he sort of tosses her back to where she had been. He looks at his team as Kenmore moves off to play lookout.
“How’d you guys get here?” His temper cools to a growl.
“Rodney saw the Asgard beams take you and believed that the main cave had to be some sort of transporting pad. It took him some time using the life signs detector to find the energy readings for a control panel but Ronon and I made quick work of the wall and Rodney likewise made quick work of the control panel’s computer,” Teyla answers him quickly.
“’Some time’,” the hostility disappears, “How long have we’ve been gone?”
“Seven hours,” Ronon says.
Sheppard and Kenmore glance at each other.
“We just woke up a few minutes ago,” he informs the others.
“Yeah, we know. We figured it was you messing with the power systems,” Rodney snorts.
“Did that help any,” Sheppard asks.
“Helped you, for us—and by ‘us’ I mean me—it was a living hell,” John gives McKay his ‘Get a move on with it Rodney’ look and Rodney takes the hint, “but otherwise no. Their power grid is still very much large and very much in charge.”
Kenmore’s still playing lookout, to what Sheppard didn’t know, but she asks, “How many are there?”
McKay looks at the back of her head, “I don’t know.”
She looks back at him.
“You don’t what?”
Rodney shifts uncomfortably. This was difficult for him to admit to his closest friends, it was downright impossible in front of Zelenka, and Kenmore…but to Rodney’s credit and that self-growth he’d been working on for about a year now with his girlfriend, Doctor Jennifer Keller, the scientist is willing to try.
McKay starts slowly, “I don’t kn—“
“You don’t know,” Kenmore cuts him off, shocked.
McKay doesn’t like the tone of her voice. He comes out from the transporting area.
“Yes, I don’t know.”
Kenmore turns her whole body to face him.
“Why not? You’re the genius.”
“Excuse me, Little Miss Captain America, but I was not the idiot who got themselves beamed out by the enemy.”
“No, you weren’t,” she gestures at Sheppard, “He was.”
“Hey,” Sheppard takes offense.
“What? I told you to stop.”
Sheppard shoves his finger in her face again, “In case you hadn’t noticed, Missy, I don’t take orders from you.”
Kenmore isn’t backing down for a moment, “Since when has ‘Stop,’ ‘Wait,’ ‘Don’t’ meant anything other than,” she starts tightly flailing her arms, “Danger Will Robinson, freakin’ danger?”
Sheppard, to Ronon’s delight—he looks on with a smile, About time—takes another step into her face but before he can say anything, and he was more than seething enough to do it as viciously as he possibly could, there’s a power hum from the transporting area. They all look at the empty, semi-circular space.
“Someone’s coming,” McKay announces, like anyone needed him to, in a small panicked voice.
“Get out of sight,” Sheppard orders.
Without hesitation, they split up and take up positions on either side of the gap. Sheppard with Teyla behind him and Ronon behind her on the left and Kenmore with McKay behind her on the right and, ironically, once again they’re waiting for the enemy to come from either side of an open entrance. Kenmore blindly reaches behind, taps McKay, then leaves her hand, palm up, out to him. He pulls his pistol out of its holster and puts it in her palm. They all are careful to not look down the mini-hallway into the transporting area, they have to be content to simply hear for the new arrival. Well, ‘simply’ is perhaps not the best word…
In the silence, Kenmore whispers, “Doctor McKay?”
“What,” McKay, whispering for once, answers back.
“Where were their heads?”
Kenmore sighs, takes a moment to collect herself, then…“Where inside the armor?”
“Behind the shielding.”
“Is it like Goa’uld personal shields?”
“I don’t kn—“
Before he can finish, Kenmore lets out a big sigh of exasperation and looks to the others across the gap.
“Does anybody have a knife,” she whispers a little bit louder.
No one immediately answers her but Sheppard looks back at the other two members of his team behind him, knowing that both carry knives and are pretty damn good with them.
“Does anybody know how to throw one,” Kenmore tries again.
No one steps up to the plate but Kenmore tracks Sheppard’s eyes to Ronon, the one set of eyes that had been staring her down the entire time. In the pause came the sound of someone beaming in. Kenmore raises her eyebrows at Ronon, Well?
Ronon just keeps staring at her, frozen, like he was a really dangerous looking, pissed piece of stone.
They hear the footsteps of the Asgard soldier start towards them. Sheppard looks back at her. There isn’t genuine venom in her eyes like he thought there would be, she just looks frustrated and pissed off by it.
“God, you’re all so useless,” she whispers.
Then she reaches up, slips her dog tags off from around her neck, and blindly tosses them down the hallway. The footsteps stop as the tags can be heard bouncing off the side wall then skittering to a stop on the floor somewhere down there. Kenmore whistles as she simultaneously pops out from behind the wall’s edge. The Asgard, that had been bending over to pick up the tags, has a split-second to try to look up before Kenmore fires. The blast is incredibly loud in the barren space and silence and the hallway funnels it into a resounding echo. A hole the size of a quarter cracks in the soldier’s helmet. The Asgard’s legs give out underneath it. It falls to its knees then collapses to the floor, dead. Kenmore walks forward and collects her tags as the others come out from hiding. McKay stares in shock at the downed soldier. Deep colored blood, purple tinged at its edge, seeps out of the hole in the helmet and starts quickly spreading out from the body.
“But how,” he gapes as Kenmore slips her tags back on and buries them underneath her shirt again.
“A personal shield isn’t useful if you don’t get the chance to turn it on first.”
“But how did you know he didn’t walk in here with it turned on already?”
“I didn’t, but I know you can’t transport with a personal shield activated. There’s too much disharmony generated by the field’s frequency in relation to the transporter’s frequency.”
She turns the pistol over in her hands and slaps it against McKay’s chest. He takes back his weapon and Kenmore starts back to the transporting area. McKay stares up at the rest of his team. They don’t know what to say. What was there to say? Suddenly they hear dozens of clicking sounds and look over. Kenmore is doing the exact same thing she did in the cell room, she’s slapping ever button on the panel she can, one or multiples at a time. McKay bolts for her.
“Hey! Stop that.”
He yanks her hands off the panel and shoves her away from it.
“It didn’t react to me,” she told him.
McKay examines the panel for the damage she might have done to it.
“No kidding. And me showing up with a computer didn’t give you the tiniest clue as to how this thing is operated,” Kenmore glares at the back of his head and Sheppard, Ronon, and Teyla, picking their way over the Asgard Super Soldier body, move into the transporting area to join Kenmore and McKay.
Rodney plugs his computer tablet back into the panel and starts working again, “It only responds to the Asgard. There’s a mechanism in the gloves of their suits that activates everything.”
“Well, get us out of here.”
“What does it look like I’m doing?”
McKay works for a few moments more with Kenmore hovering over his shoulder watching him intently as Sheppard stands a step or two behind them with Teyla and Ronon covering the two sides of the area’s opening just in case. Ronon nudges Sheppard’s back. The Colonel takes a step back to his friend but keeps his focus on the dueling Lieutenant and Astrophysicist.
“When you broke out of the cell, why did you take her with you?”
“I didn’t break out, she did. And, frankly, I’m glad she took me with her.”
Ronon snorts disdainfully, “You let her break you out?”
“I didn’t really have a choice.”
“She was the only who knew what she was doing. I’m not familiar with Asgard technology.” He knew it was a lame excuse.
“How many more times are you ‘not really going to have a choice’ with her?”
John caught the dig with a smile, “As many more times as she proves useful.”
Finally Ronon smiles, That’s perfectly fine with me to use her, and goes back to his watch, Sheppard steps back forward again, and Teyla glances at them both from the corner of her eye. McKay finishes up and announces…
“It’s done. All that’s left is to pick—“
As McKay lifts his finger, Kenmore suddenly reaches past him and slams her finger against the first lowest button. There’s a flash of Asgard light as all of them are beamed out.
The team arrives in another transporting area. There’s a moment of shocked silence then Rodney turns and looks up at the Lieutenant; they all look at her.
“I can’t believe you just did that. What is your problem? We had one chance, one chance of getting out of here, and you blew it. The system resets after each use. I have to do this all over again. Which gives them, you do remember who ‘them’ are right, more time to hunt us down and kill us.”
Kenmore faces the irate scientist head on without flinching nor seeing what his problem was.
“Yeah, that’s why I picked one of the lowest levels. I didn’t want to land right on the first level. Main levels are some of the most protected, and, uh, whoever wants to start sniffing around the bowels of hell?”
I’ll be damned, she’s done it again. What was that, like three points now? Sheppard looks at the scientist. McKay’s temporarily catatonic at the fact that Kenmore has scored another point on him then he brings up his finger and begins to hold court over the Lieutenant the way only Doctor Rodney McKay can…
“Listen little girl—,” to which Kenmore promptly rolls her eyes and starts to walk away…Sheppard reaches out and grabs her arm once again yanking her back to him. She looks up at him, her mouth opened and ready to protest.
“Look, I know you haven’t been here long and you don’t play well with others—,” she looks away from him too and then just stares ahead of her, past him, with this odd expression on her face but Sheppard wasn’t going to let her get away that easy, “Listen to me.”
She doesn’t respond. He yanks her closer to him. He sees the puffs of his breath shift the hairs of her nearest eyebrow.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you,” she doesn’t. Aw damn,
“What? What is it?”
They look up in the direction she’s looking and right across from them is an open door to a darkened room. There is a round, quick flash of white light like someone’s shining a flashlight at them from in there. John feels the urge to suddenly crouch down when the flash disappears then comes back then disappears then comes back again. No, no one was in there; the light is disappearing then reappearing too rhythmically, something is passing in front of it at regular intervals. But where was the light coming from? John felt his hold on Kenmore loosen. She slowly slides over to the pseudo-cover of the wall in the woefully overexposed hallway again in front of Teyla as the rest of Sheppard’s team fall back to the pseudo-cover of the hallway’s walls. After a moment, Kenmore stands up and starts walking forward normally. Sheppard hisses at her…
“There’s no one here,” Kenmore whispers back, “Listen.”
They do. Teyla looks over at Sheppard.
“She is right,” the Athosian whispers.
Sheppard looks back at Kenmore, “Then why are you whispering?”
“Because you are.”
Oh, Sheppard eases up and Kenmore walks out onto the walkway and starts walking the perimeter. They follow her.
She steps into the darkened room, the rest of the team behind her. It’s not dark from a lack of lighting, just broken-down, on-it’s-last-legs lighting dangling by its wires from broken panels in the ceiling a regular height above them; probably to clear the height of the Asgard with their soldier suits on. It was kind of disturbing and handy to know that they spent enough of their time in those suits to decorate their locations based off of those measurements rather than the normal Asgard height which John already knew was a lot smaller than his. It told him that all you really had to get around were those suits which Kenmore just proved was possible without too much planning or firepower. It’s almost too dark to see anything. Kenmore can make out a table with a couple piles of junk on it but nothing more substantial than that. There are more lights, smaller green ones, in rows with about a foot spacing in between them going all the way up the walls to their left and right. The glow from McKay’s computer tablet is enough to light his face not really anything else. It gives him a pale sickly look, not even like death warmed over, more like death frozen under.
“Give me a second,” he tells them, “I think I can get us some light.”
Everyone stops in their tracks. After a moment’s tapping in the dark, the secondary backup lights from a secondary generator system somewhere sputter on. There’s no need to flinch from the transition from light to dark. The light is marginal at best, the room is gloomily lit and it wasn’t going to get any better. Sheppard looks at McKay and Rodney shrugs at him, unhappy with his own performance. Well, he did say some. The whole room, from what they can tell, is the same sterile silver-white as apparently the rest of the facility. The rhythmically flashing light was due to it being on the other side of a giant fan with its massive propeller-shaped blades rotating in front of it. The air system. Not so elegant but super industrial, apparently the Asgard had since given up their design aesthetic and had instead opted to tear off the door to some sort of maintenance shaft, put a fan in, and consider the place aerated. Apparently ten thousand years of hiding from the Wraith can do that to a technologically advanced super race. At least the other lights are revealed at last. One foot by one foot squares with locking mechanisms in their upper right corners like built-in filing cabinets. All green, all unlocked and there was a proverbial bright spot, the piles of junk on the table turn out to be Sheppard’s tacvest and holster and his P-90 and pistol. Sheppard walks forward, inspects his gear, nothing is missing, and starts putting it on as the others spread out around the room. Teyla takes up position by the door. There wasn’t anybody out there now but there might be if the Asgard figure out that they beamed here instead of the main level. Ronon walks around taking in the whole room, falling into his trademark pattern of watching for booby traps. Rodney and Kenmore walk up to the cabinets; Rodney to the left wall, Kenmore to the right. Sheppard notices Ronon keeping an eye on Kenmore too. Rodney starts typing on his tablet again.
“Okay, I’m getting minute readings from these. They don’t seem to be servers or databases of any sort nor are there—,” Rodney gets cut off again by the sound of metal squeaking on metal behind him. He looks back at the other wall as do the others. Kenmore has her finger poised maybe an inch away from the green locking mechanism, waiting, as it’s compartment continues opening up. Rodney rolls his eyes and finishes, “any booby traps.”
He looks to Sheppard for a comforting reprimand to the Lieutenant-who-can’t-seem-to-pay-attention-to-anyone-let-alone-looking-before-she-leapt-which-could-get-them-all-killed, but Sheppard doesn’t notice him, he keeps his eyes on Kenmore. She’s staring—Was that confused shock?—down into the cabinet the compartment revealed itself to be. She reaches in, there’s a crackling sound, and her hand comes back out holding a set of neatly folded clothes and other personal items contained in a plastic bag sealed nicely and neatly with a metal strip with glowing blue writing displayed across the metal. Kenmore looks back at Sheppard, Sheppard looks over at Rodney. Rodney turns and opens up one of the filing compartments in front of him and, like Kenmore, he reaches in and comes back up with another sealed plastic bag with a different set of clothing and personal effects in it.
“There’s dozens in here,” he says. He looks up and down his wall at all the other compartments unlocked and still untouched, “Probably in every one of them.”
Sheppard takes a look around the room. There had to be the personal effects of hundreds of people in here. What had they stumbled on to? Sheppard looks back at Rodney, already waiting for John’s next order.
“I think we need to see what the bowels of Hell look like.”